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GATORADE Players Of the Year

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Many of the premier high school athletes over the past three decades have gone on to illustrious careers in their chosen sports—and many have not. But some of those who chose other fields have also flourished

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1986

ERIC MASTALIR, TRACK & FIELD

All-America at Stanford in 1990

Surgery on both Achilles tendons prevented ERIC MASTALIR, a distance runner, from seeking a pro career, but he wanted to stay in sports. He worked in development for Adidas and with Bausch & Lomb, then did stints building corporate sponsorships and running ticket sales for the NBA's Kings and the NHL's Sharks before becoming chief commercial officer for the Seahawks and Sounders in Seattle. "These brands have such a loyal fan base, and I loved tapping into that," says Mastalir.

Since 2014 he has been at Amazon working in global business development, while also dabbling in sports ticketing and video. "I wouldn't have expected I would be here, nor would I have expected to spend a number of years with teams," Mastalir says. "I'm pleased with my journey."

1987

EMMITT SMITH, FOOTBALL

All-time NFL rushing leader with 18,355 yards

1988

ALONZO MOURNING, BASKETBALL

Seven-time All-Star; won 2006 NBA title

1989

CHRIS HENDERSON, SOCCER

1992 Olympian; MLS leader in games played

1990

LISA LESLIE, BASKETBALL

Three-time WNBA MVP, won titles in '01 and '02

1991

CHRIS WEBBER, BASKETBALL

Five-time NBA All-Star

1992

CORLISS WILLIAMSON, BASKETBALL

Won the 2004 NBA title with Pistons

1993

MIKE FISHER, SOCCER

Won NCAA titles at Virginia in 1993 and '94

MLS had been in existence for only one year in 1996, when MIKE FISHER graduated from Virginia. After surveying former teammates who participated in the inaugural season, he wasn't sold on playing. So he turned to what he had planned for his postsoccer career: medicine. Says Fisher, "I was just like, Why delay the whole thing?"

After med school at UVa he completed two radiology residencies and has worked in a private practice in Wilmington, N.C., for nine years. Fisher and his wife, Kelly, coach their two daughters in soccer; when their three-year-old son gets older they'll coach him too. "[Soccer has] never really left me," Fisher says. "I'm out at the field four to five days a week. It's so fun to see them play."

1994

FELIPE LOPEZ, BASKETBALL

Played four seasons for three NBA teams

1995

STEPHANIE WHITE, BASKETBALL

Led Purdue to the 1999 NCAA championship

1996

KIM MORTENSEN, TRACK & FIELD

Competed at UCLA for one season

1997

BARON DAVIS, BASKETBALL

NBA leader in playoff steals per game (2.28)

1998

RONALD CURRY, FOOTBALL

Seven NFL seasons, 193 catches and 13 TDs

1999

VANESSA PRUZINSKY, SOCCER

Shared the award with forward Christie Welsh

When VANESSA PETERSON (née Pruzinsky) graduated from Notre Dame in 2003, she was not only one of the nation's top defenders but also the first student at South Bend since 1974—and the first woman—to have a 4.0 in chemical engineering. So when the Women's United Soccer Association folded that year, she had other options.

Peterson began working as a chemical engineer at Merck, which underwrote her Ph.D. at MIT. Now she works on immunotherapy drugs used in treating cancer. Kicking the ball around with her one-year-old son has helped rekindle Peterson's interest in soccer, which she credits for her professional success. "I apply everything I learned—being a team player, work ethic, drive," she says. "It was invaluable."

2000

MONIQUE HENDERSON, TRACK & FIELD

Won NCAA 400-meter title in 2005

After making three Olympic appearances in track—and twice winning gold in the 4 × 400 relay—by age 25, MONIQUE HENDERSON was ready to stop competing. But she wasn't ready to leave the track. So she took a job as an assistant coach at San Diego Mesa College. Then a teaching position in an exercise science class opened up and Henderson stepped in as a sub.

"I loved it," she says. She soon enrolled in a graduate program in kinesiology and exercise science. Since 2015, Henderson has been the coach of the track and cross-country teams at Golden West College in Huntington Beach, Calif., and teaches kinesiology. "I'm very comfortable," she says. "Everything worked out."

2001

KELVIN TORBERT, BASKETBALL

Averaged 9.3 points at Michigan State

After a career as a high-scoring guard at Flint (Mich.) Northwestern High, KELVIN TORBERT was the team's defensive player of the year in each of his four seasons at Michigan State and a key cog in the Spartans' 2005 Final Four run. He played overseas for seven years then returned to Flint and started the Kelvin Torbert Hope for a Better Tomorrow Foundation in honor of his mother, Florine Green, who died of breast cancer when Torbert was five.

Torbert also cowrote a children's book, KT and the Radical Roundball, which promotes the value of hard work, humility, service and education. "I know everybody wants to play ball forever," Torbert says. "But I think I'm in a great spot. I'm in the thick of things, and I can relate to these kids. I like where I am now."

2002

ZACK GREINKE, BASEBALL

2009 Cy Young winner, led MLB in ERA twice

2003

LEBRON JAMES, BASKETBALL

Three-time NBA champion, MVP four times

2004

CANDACE PARKER, BASKETBALL

WNBA champion and Finals MVP in 2016

2005

JUSTIN UPTON, BASEBALL

Tigers outfielder is a three-time MLB All-Star

2006

CLAYTON KERSHAW, BASEBALL

Led MLB in ERA four consecutive seasons

2007

EMILY PENDLETON, TRACK & FIELD

Won Big 10 discus title in 2008 and '09

EMILY PENDLETON found her second act by accident. After winning two Big 10 titles in discus at Michigan, Pendleton didn't know what she wanted to do—so she walked into the student support services office and asked if they needed help. The staff offered her a position as an assistant academic counselor. "I fell in love," she says.

She worked with Olympic athletes and football players, helping them transition to college coursework. Last year she moved to Indiana and took a job as a learning specialist at Ball State. Pendleton's accidental job is now a calling. "I'm very proud of what I've accomplished, both athletically and in the workplace," she says.

2008

ASHLEY BRASOVAN, CROSS-COUNTRY

Finished 55th in 2016 U.S. marathon trials

2009

SKYLAR DIGGINS, BASKETBALL

Wings point guard is a two-time WNBA All-Star

2010

JUSTIN WORLEY, FOOTBALL

Passed for 3,556 yards at Tennessee

Injuries to both his shoulder and thumb limited JUSTIN WORLEY's career as a quarterback at Tennessee and prevented him from getting an NFL roster spot. So Worley returned to a place that's been a part of his life since he was nine—the Upper Palmetto YMCA in downtown Rock Hill, S.C.—where he serves as the sports and fitness director. "It was an opportunity, fresh out of college, to give back to the community I grew up in," he says.

Worley enjoys seeing kids compete. And in a town that is sometimes called Football City, USA, he gets to see players who can follow in his footsteps. "We've got a bunch of talent," Worley says. "It's good to be around that."

2011

MORGAN BRIAN, SOCCER

Golden Ball winner (for best player) in 2016

2012

BREANNA STEWART, BASKETBALL

No. 1 WNBA draft pick in '16 was top rookie

2013

ANDREW WIGGINS, BASKETBALL

NBA Rookie of the Year in 2014

2014

KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS, BASKETBALL

No. 1 pick in 2015 draft was also top rookie

2015

MALLORY PUGH, SOCCER

Youngest American to score in the Olympics

2016

SYDNEY MCLAUGHLIN, TRACK & FIELD

Ran the 400m hurdles at the Rio Games